Jimmy Lemke is the RTC correspondent for the Horizon League.
A Look Back
- How They Fared: It was a week that had mixed results for the Horizon League. The torch-bearer for the conference, Butler, won a difficult MAAC road game by double-digits against Siena before dropping an overtime decision in Hinkle Fieldhouse against state foe Evansville. Detroit picked up three solid victories over Albany, Bowling Green and Niagara after dropping an early-week decision at Missisippi State. Milwaukee‘s upset bid over Marquette just failed at the end, with a missed front end of a one-and-one giving Marquette just enough breathing room to win in the dangerous U.S. Cellular Arena. Wright State showed signs of life by defeating a good Summit League program in Oakland, weathering the storm of 25 points and seven rebounds from Keith Benson. They then lost two games they were expected to lose against Richmond and Southern Illinois in Chicago.
- Dropped Out: After the gut-wrenching loss to Evansville, Butler dropped out of the rankings for the first time since January. The Horizon League is no longer represented in the Top 25 despite getting off to an excellent 42-21 record as a conference, its best in years.
- Owning The Paint: Detroit’s 3-1 record largely comes from the play of Eli Holman, who averaged 14 points, 12.3 rebounds and 2 blocks over the four games. Milwaukee’s Anthony Hill recorded a double-double in the loss to Western Michigan and 18 points and eight rebounds against Marquette on Saturday.
- Tip Of The Cap: Youngstown State’s Vytas Sulskis gets the nod this week as he joined the 1,000 point club at the school.
- Cleveland State (8-0) – The Vikings’ perfect early season continued with decisive double-digit victories over Akron and St. Bonaventure. In a time when Butler seems to be fallible, Gary Waters’ team hasn’t shown a chink in the armor yet. Norris Cole paces the conference with 20.4 points per game.
- Butler (3-2) – Brad Stevens is still fumbling around with his lineup, with eight different players getting starts for the Bulldogs. Saturday’s loss to Evansville doesn’t defuse the question surrounding the search for Gordon Hayward, but it’s not every day you have to replace an NBA lottery pick. A rematch of last year’s final with Duke awaits this weekend.
- Detroit (4-3) – The Titans were close to taking down the Mississippi State Bulldogs in Starkville, and the rest of the week they took care of business. Eli Holman is playing at his best right now, which is very important as the Titans get ready for Wright State on Saturday.
- Loyola (7-0) – It can no longer be ignored: Loyola is just as perfect as Cleveland State. Why do the Ramblers not get as much love here? Their one-point victory at WCC doormat San Francisco would be their best victory of the year if they didn’t whoop Western Michigan on the road.
- Valparaiso (4-2) – The Crusaders were mostly predictable this week, losing a close one at MAC champ Ohio before beating Northern Colorado and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. Valpo has a great road trip to open conference season; their fans only have 30 miles or so to Chicago.
- Youngstown State (4-1) – They may be playing nobody now, but if they weren’t robbed at Akron, they’d be undefeated heading into Milwaukee on Thursday. The Penguins were awful in conference play in 2009-10, let’s see if Jerry Slocum‘s new roster is up to the challenge.
- Milwaukee (3-4) – The Jekyll-and-Hyde Panthers continued their ways, but it ended the week 0-2. A dumb loss before Thanksgiving to Western Michigan was mirrored by a spirited and winning-worthy performance in a three-point loss to Marquette, the toughest Horizon League opponent all week.
- Wright State (3-3) – The Raiders got the nod over UIC and Green Bay by posting a great victory over Oakland, a team many think will win the Summit. N’Gai Evans has made a big difference since returning to the lineup, and the Raiders need him with huge games at Cincinnati and Detroit looming this week.
- UIC (3-3) – Howard Moore‘s UIC Flames suffered a loss to Ernie Zeigler’s Central Michigan Chippewas the night before Thanksgiving. They escaped an awful Toledo team on Sunday to complete the season sweep of Tod Kowalczyk’s Rockets.
- Green Bay (3-3) – Rahmon Fletcher and the Phoenix were lucky to escape Saturday with a home victory over North Dakota State, a team that has fallen since their tourney appearance in 2009. A Monday loss to IUPUI, whose only other win came against IU-Northwest, means that Green Bay has work to do.
A Look Ahead
Unlike most conferences that start play in January or late December, the Horizon League has “Opening Weekend,” the first set of games (tell me the conference shouldn’t market that). The Wisconsin schools open up at home against Ohio, while the Indiana schools travel to Chicago, although Butler will play at UIC later in the season (they’ve got a big non-conference game Saturday night). Detroit and Wright State’s “Rivalry” game will take place on Saturday. (all times eastern)
- 12/1 – Butler at Loyola, 8 p.m. Horizon League Network
- 12/1 – Detroit vs. Akron, 7 p.m. HLN
- 12/1 – Wright State at Cincinnati, No TV
- 12/2 – Youngstown State at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. HLN
- 12/2 – Cleveland State at Green Bay, 8 p.m. HLN
- 12/2 – Valparaiso at UIC, 8 p.m. HLN
- 12/4 – Cleveland State at Milwaukee, 8 p.m. HLN
- 12/4 – Wright State at Detroit, noon HLN
- 12/4 – Youngstown State at Green Bay, 2 p.m. HLN
- 12/4 - Valparaiso at Loyola, 4 p.m. HLN
- 12/4 - Butler vs. Duke at IZOD Center, 3:30 p.m. ESPN
- 12/4 - UIC vs. Akron, 4 p.m. HLN
Caught On Film: If you’re like me, you were disappointed when Gordon Hayward’s Too Big Yo rap was taken offline. We’re disappointed no more!